• Here’s A Real-Life Version Of Pokémon Red And Blue’s Bicycle

    One of the best moments of Pokémon Red and Blue is finally obtaining the bicycle. Quickly speeding across the world you spent hours trudging across on foot feels liberating and you appreciate it as much as any of your pocket monsters. Well, what if I told you that The Pokémon Company is giving away a real-life version of that bike? That's right it could be yours … as long as you live in Japan. As spotted by Kotaku, The Pokémon Company is celebrating reaching one million Twitter followers by creating a replica of Generation 1’s bicycle. While garnering a million fans is a big deal, that number has dual significance. It directly references the in-game price tag of the bike, which fans likely remember stood at 1,000,000 Poké-monies (or whatever Pokémon currency is called). Since players’ wallets were capped at 999,999, it was literally impossible to purchase and could only be obtained by trading a bike voucher earned earlier in the game. Click image thumbnails to view larger version                                                                                                               Before you get too excited about recreating your Kanto adventure in real life, you can't actually ride this bike. You’ll notice it lacks a bike chain and is purely meant to be displayed. The bike also isn’t for sale and will be given away to one lucky fan that follows the @poke_times Twitter account and retweets ポケモンの100万円じてんしゃ which translates to “# Pokémon's 1 million yen bicycle”. Anyone can enter but The Pokémon Company states that the bike will only be shipped domestically in Japan.  The giveaway begins today and runs until August 3. If you reside in Japan or at least have an address there the bike can be sent to, may the odds be ever in your favor. If you’re like those of us who are not in Japan, we’ll continue to jealously admire the craftsmanship and fun attention to detail in the photos.  For a Pokémon thing you can more easily access, check out our review of Pokémon Unite.  [Source: The Pokémon Company via Kotaku] So, any of you living in Japan planning to enter the giveaway? Let us know in the comments!

  • Marvel's Avengers’ War For Wakanda Begins In August

    War for Wakanda is easily the most exciting expansion to hit Marvel’s Avengers, and we finally know when it’s coming. On August 17, players will get to take control of Black Panther to explore a brand new story serving as the game’s largest content update yet.  In addition to adding a Christopher Judge-voiced T’Challa to the roster of heroes, the free expansion (yes expansion and not an Operation like with Kate Bishop and Hawkeye) introduces new enemy types and two supervillains, one of which is Klaw. Black Panther’s long-time nemesis has teamed up with AIM to invade Wakanda to steal its precious vibranium.  Wakanda, with its futuristic Royal Palace and surrounding jungles, offer a vibrant new biome to explore that contains the Birnin Zana Outpost, the laboratory of T’Challa’s brilliant sister, Shuri, and other locations. There's also a new drop zone for solo or team play. In addition to the story quests, players can engage in new threat sector missions and other superheroic activities. Of course, you can also expect plenty of new hero outfits as well as a power level increase.  For a deep dive into what War for Wakanda entails, Crystal Dynamics will stream an Avengers War Table on its Twitch channel on August 16 at 10 a.m PT. The presentation will share additional details and show off new footage of the expansion in action. If you love you some Black Panther but are on the fence about Marvel’s Avengers as a whole, you can play the entire game for free thanks to an all-access period running now until August 1 for the PlayStation, PC, and Stadia versions of the game. During this time Marvel’s Avengers is available at a 40% discount should you decide to buy, and your progress will carry over as well. There's also a 400% XP gain in effect and 50% off sale for the in-game store. The Tachyon Anomaly event also makes a return. For Xbox players, Crystal Dynamics promises a similar all-access period will come to those platforms in the coming months.  Marvel's Avengers is currently available for PS5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC. 

  • Report: Horizon Forbidden West Delayed To 2022

    Earlier this year, Sony shared an extensive look at Aloy's continued story with Horizon Forbidden West, but the lack of a release window had many wondering if we would see the sequel this year. Following the rumors that followed said speculation, Horizon Forbidden West has officially been delayed to 2022.  According to a new report from Bloomberg, the open-world story of Aloy is set to continue some time in the first quarter of 2022, though an exact date has not been revealed at this time. The news broke via a "person familiar with the matter," according to the site following PlayStation's Hermen Hulst's previous statements that the game was still on track for a holiday release back in June. While Hulst sounded hopeful that the release progress would remain on course, he did mention that nothing was "quite certain" yet, leaving wiggle room in case a delay was inevitable.  Game Informer has reached out to Sony, though no comment has been made at the time this article was written.  When Horizon Zero Dawn was first released on PlayStation 4, it was an instant hit with the PS community. The franchise's dual-nature setting with futuristic technology in a more tribal society made the parallels between the two worlds a unique one for the game's narrative. With Forbidden West promising even more adventures, a larger world to get lost in, and new ways to master combat and hone Aloy's skills, the upcoming journey from Guerrilla Games aims to take what so many loved from the first adventure and make it even better.  To learn more about the game thus far, including more footage, behind-the-scenes looks, and special interviews with the team at Guerilla Games, check out our dedicated game hub here. 

  • PS5 Abandoned Game Speculation Continues When Another Tie To Konami Was Spotted

    BlueBox Game Studios can't seem to escape the rumors that the PS5 game Abandoned is actually a Silent Hill adventure in disguise. There have been many theories about what Abandoned would be, but one of the most prevalent rumors links it back to being a Silent Hill project that Hideo Kojima is keeping hidden. Studio head Hasan Kahraman has plainly stated in the past that Abandoned is its own game, in no way related to Kojima, Konami, or Silent Hill. However, that wasn't enough to assuage fan theories because an additional Konami link has been discovered, kicking the proverbial hornet nest once more.  Kahraman recently appeared on a podcast to promote the mysterious PlayStation 5 game. As with anything Abandoned-related, the internet immediately assumed a sleuth position and found out that the podcast called Al Hub is actually sponsored by Konami. When Al Hub tweeted out its interview with Kahraman, intrigued mystery lovers got to work. In the original findings, the podcast shared that Konami was sponsoring the interview, then it was taken down and replaced with Bloober Team (a studio also rumored to be working on Silent Hill). The third time was the charm because a third edit reposted Konami as a sponsor alongside Bloober.  Click here to watch embedded media Though Kahraman has point blank denied that Abandoned is related to Kojima or Konami, a recent teaser from just this week seems to contradict that directly. At least if you read into the comment section. BlueBox tweeted a new image for Abandoned with a blurred background of an older man with an eyepatch, not unlike in a certain Metal Gear series, with blurred text in the background that many believe reads "Welcome to Silent Hill." If you missed it, you could catch up on the latest puzzle piece with our previous coverage here.  Abandoned is certainly one of the greatest mysteries in gaming right now, but this entire situation does bring up a concern. Abandoned seems to be promising a lot with such a small team and a team that we don't really have any history with for comparison. Where my concern comes in is that the speculation-driven hype surrounding the elusive PS5 game will place deep-rooted expectations on what Abandoned even is, and these expectations will likely be impossible to reach because the very experience itself isn't what people are assuming. It will be interesting to see what the road to launch looks like, especially if the past month is any indicator. 

  • Ubisoft Employees Say CEO Yves Guillemot "Sidelined" Demands In Activision Blizzard Open Letter

    Earlier this week, over one thousand Ubisoft employees, both current and former, penned an open letter to executives, including CEO Yves Guillemot, demanding change in relation to workplace abuse allegations. The open letter was also drawn up in support of the Activision Blizzard walkout that occurred earlier this week in protest of a similar issue after details of an ongoing lawsuit against the company were made public. Now, the group behind the letter says that despite public statements being made by leadership, the reported behavior behind the scenes does not match what is being said on the surface.  Following the open letter to leadership, Guillemot responded with an internal email to all Ubisoft staff. Game Informer was able to confirm the contents of the letter, first shared by Axios' Stephen Totilo. The most recent email, much like previous statements against the allegations of sexual misconduct and workplace abuse, claims to be working towards making Ubisoft a better environment to be in and has "made important progress over the year." It also talked about how meaningful change takes time, but previous reports earlier this Summer allege that nothing has been done save the first wave of public firings of high-level executives and one member of HR.  The initial email from Guillemot also included plans to continue investigating the matters at hand in Q3 and will share an "HR roadmap" during that time. Shortly after the internal email went public, the group that organized the first open letter told GameIndustry.biz that the demands of the initial correspondence were "sidelined" and that only "a few" points in their expressed memo were even addressed. "We are aware that the company has made some improvements, and we are happy to hear that Yves and the leadership team agree that it is not enough," a Ubisoft employee told the site in relation to the letter. "However, Ubisoft continues to protect and promote known offenders and their allies. We see management continuing to avoid this issue. It is also worth clarifying that an invitation to reach out to company management personally is not the same as having a collective seat at the table." It was said that the group hopes that the rest of the demands and points made are addressed in a "full response," calling for an industry-wide effort to combat what is becoming an apparent widespread issue. This group reiterated the purpose of seeing "real, fundamental change" not only at Ubisoft but everywhere in the gaming industry. For this to happen, honest conversations need to be had, and leadership not involved in the alleged discrimination and misconduct needs to step up and swiftly act to correct these internal issues. This includes toxic workplace culture that is detailed in the "cubicle crawls" detailed in the Activision Blizzard lawsuit, it includes pay discrimination based on gender. The details alleged in the lawsuit show a reported increase in negligence and harmful behavior against women of color, in particular. The statement from the Ubisoft group pushing for change ended, saying: "It's exhausting, frustrating, and it counters the messaging they give us. We cannot be happy or satisfied with this hypocrisy. For the one person who signed, there are countless others who simply were too terrified. Do better or keep losing good people."

  • Rounding Up Everything In Today’s Annapurna Interactive Showcase

    A month after the flurry of events surrounding E3 week back in June, indie publisher Annapurna Interactive put on a gaming showcase of its own. The company's debut presentation was filled with fun game announcements, release date reveals, and a few surprises. We were excited to see more of several Annapurna titles going into the show and we were not disappointed. Stray, Solar Ash, The Artful Escape, and Neon White, among others, all took the spotlight today with fresh trailers and exciting news to share.  The show even revealed a handful of new indie projects and we may have to update our list of indie games to watch. If you missed the Annapurna Interactive Showcase, don't worry. We have rounded up all the exciting games and announcements from the show for you.  The Artful Escape Kicking off Annapurna’s presentation with a bang was The Artful Escape. It’s been a long journey for Beethoven and Dinosaur’s rock adventure, but The Artful Escape finally has a release date and an impressive, star-filled, cast. Some of the actors lending their voices to the title include Lena Headey, Jason Schwartzman, Mark Strong, and Carl Weathers. The Artful Escape jams out on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass, and PC on Sept 9. Neon White The creator behind Donut County, Ben Esposito, decided to shake things up for Neon White. Instead of raccoons, you’ll find demon assassins taking the stage in this first-person shooter with card mechanics. The main character, White, has days to clear all the other demons from Heaven. If he is successful, he might just get to stay up in the clouds. The new trailer in today’s presentation showed off the game’s gunplay and relationship system. A Memoir Blue Reality and reveries blend together in A Memoir Blue, a new, aquatically-inspired game by Cloisters Interactive. The reveal trailer features a series of recollections that play out in front of Miriam, a champion swimmer. Her childhood memories of one special day with her mother manifest in the game as wonderful, hand-drawn art. These memories blur the line between the character’s thoughts and the world around her. Storyteller One of the most unique announcements of the presentation, Storyteller challenges its players to create literary masterpieces. This puzzle game will start you off with primary figures of the story, a fitting place for the action, and important themes. It is your task to successfully weave all these elements together. Solar Ash Solar Ash is coming out on October 26 for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC. The cherry-on-top date reveal came after an epic trailer showcasing the game’s stunning landscape, intimidating monsters, and speedy traversal. As the second project from the developers behind Hyper Light Drifter, we have some big expectations for this game and Solar Ash’s launch is only months away. Annapurna Interactive Teams Up With Studios For Unannounced Projects Some exciting things are coming down the pipe from developer Jessica Mak (Everyday Shooter and Sound Shapes), the creators at No Code (Observation) and Outerloop Games (Falcon Age), and brand-new studio Ivy Road lead by Davey Wreden and Karla Zimonja. We don’t get to know what the projects are just yet, but you may want to bookmark these names for the future. Skin Deep The Annapurna Interactive Showcase gave us a look at Skin Deep’s personality-filled gameplay. In Skin Deep, you play as an insurance agent, the kind of insurance agent that shoots guns and hunts space pirates. Stuck aboard a starship filling up with hostile invaders, it is your job to ensure the insurance corporations’ valuables are protected. Platform Updates Heads up, Gorogoa and Telling Lies are coming to Xbox Game Pass some time in the near future. The Pathless’ Steam release is on November 16, and What Remains of Edith Finch is heading to the App store on August 16. Last but not least, I Am Dead launches on the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox on August 9, just a few weeks away. Stray Stray is set to launch early next year and the team’s personalized tour through the game’s worn streets will give us plenty to think about in the meantime. BlueTwelve Studio confirmed you will be taking control of the titular stray cat, before offering up a few more hints about the story and gameplay. We don’t know what happened to the humans in Stray’s setting, but we do know that a helpful drone will join you on your quest to escape the city and rejoin your feline family. Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye The final surprise of Annapurna Interactive’s presentation turned out to be an Outer Wilds DLC. Called Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye, the game’s first and only expansion, will be ready for lift-off on September 28. Today’s minute-long trailer sets a creepy mood but doesn’t reveal much about what to expect. The DLC is just around the corner, so hopefully, we see more it Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye before launch.

  • Outer Wilds DLC Revealed With New Echoes Of The Eye Trailer

    Outer Wilds from Mobius Digital is a phenomenal space program adventure that was met with positive reviews and excitement for the future of indies. The universe is constantly evolving, changing, and every mystery reveals ten more just beyond it. Because of this freedom, this exploratory wonder, a new Outer Wilds experience is on the way. During the Annapurna Interactive showcase, a first for the publisher, new Outer Wilds DLC has been revealed called Echoes of the Eye.  The newest adventure begins with a strange satellite photo that can't be explained and a question emerges: is it better to uncover all of the mysteries that the universe holds, are is some knowledge better left alone? Secrets like who build the alien ruins on the moon and what secrets does the ominous Dark Bramble old. The Echoes of the Eye expansion takes that adventure one step further when the Hearthian space program finds an anomaly that has no tangible traces to the galaxy we know, something new entirely.  See what Echoes of the Eye has in store with the reveal trailer below:  Click here to watch embedded media Interested but haven't delved into the Outer Wilds experience yet? "At the end of it all, I admire a lot about Outer Wilds," reads our full review. "The entire world operating on that 20-minute timer is a fascinating theatrical accomplishment of craftsmanship, but I find it more fun to think about than to play. A lot of ideas linger here, some of them beautifully executed, others slipshod and pushing against each other. I love roaming inside the bellies of mysterious planets, but don’t like how the urgency of the timer undercuts my exploration. I have left Outer Wilds’ galaxy feeling as much exhaustion as satisfaction, but also with a list of several enchanting interstellar moments." Echoes of the Eye is expected to launch on September 28, 2021 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC players through Steam and Epic Games Store. 

  • Stray Trailer Shares New Gameplay Details And Slight Delay

    BlueTwelve Studio walked us through its cat-centric game, Stray, during the Annapurna Interactive Showcase today. The new trailer focuses on the game’s protagonist and world, including a look at one friendly little drone, and breaks the news that Stray will now launch in early 2022 on PlayStation 5, Playstation 4, and PC. Though the game seems poised to become an indie darling, probably fueled by the internet’s well-documented love of cats, we didn’t know much about Stray before today. First shown at Sony’s PlayStation event last summer, Stray’s announcement trailer communicated two things very well. One, Stray has a cat in it – that sometimes wears a tiny backpack. Two, the game’s fearless feline inhabits a grim cityscape populated by mechanical beings. Humanity, it seems – if several graffiti messages in the trailer are any indication – has met with some unkind end. Between the game's intriguing, though foreboding, world and its adorable character, we were eager to see more. Luckily, today’s showcase was happy to oblige. Stray’s new trailer explains the game's lead has been separated from its family. Lost and hurt, it makes its way through a hostile and unfamiliar metropolis just trying to survive. The player will experience this through the cat's eyes. Whether it's crossing a lake of toxic sludge or finding a way past whirling fan blades of death, it looks for a while like you'll be left alone to fend for yourself. Until B-12 appears. Click here to watch embedded media B-12 is a small drone that will let you interact with the mysterious city around you and communicate with the locals. Hovering helpfully above the ground, the drone will aid you with everything from picking up objects to fighting.  Apart from introducing B-12, the trailer shows off a few of the game’s puzzles and some rooftop action, giving us a better idea of Stray’s moment-to-moment gameplay. We are also introduced to Doc, a handy-looking robot occupied by thoughts of his son, that might have an important role to play in your adventure. Stray's new 2022 release window is announced near the end of the video. This is a bit disappointing considering the game’s initial trailer said Stray would be out in 2021. However, it is not the first game to get pushed out of 2021, and it probably won’t be the last. 

  • Interview: Skin Deep Offers A Weird FPS Experience Where Cats Are In Charge

    What do you get when you have a team that just really wants to make a really weird shooter? A really weird shooter where cats are in charge. That's exactly what the team over at Blendo Games is doing, under the publishing umbrella of Annapurna Interactive, with its newest title called Skin Deep. There's sneezing, there is getting weird stuff stuck to the bottom of your feet, and there is the need to survive while trying to escape a group of pirates after being frozen on a cargo ship by an insurance firm run by ... cats. Yeah.  We sat down with Brendon Chung, the head of Blendo Games, to talk more about the studio's latest title. Coming off of creating some wild experiences like Atom Zombie Smasher, Thirty Flights of Loving, and more, Skin Deep fits right into the growing library of oddball experiences that are just about having fun. Not every game has to have a billion subplots, not everything needs to be super complicated to be enjoyed. With Skin Deep, it's about having fun, the thrill of a shootout, and not taking life too seriously.  So what is Skin Deep? It's a world where insurance corporations keep valuables safe, including people, they free you and store you into cargo starships. That's you. You're frozen. Everything is fine and dandy until a group of pirates decide to board the ship and throw everything into mayhem. It's up to you as the player to unthaw and throw yourself into the chaos using weapons and good 'ol fashioned stealth to try to survive in this sandbox. It's goofy but also challenging, providing the perfect blend of gameplay styles to make Skin Deep stand out.  So where does inspiration like this come from? "I grew up playing a lot of FPS games," Chung tells us. "I got my start making a game by doing maps for like Doom, Quake, Half-Life - things like that. So I've done a lot of FPS stuff, story games like Gravity Bone, but I haven't done anything where you just straight-up shoot people. A traditional FPS game and I love this genre, so I wanted to make it, and I did." Chung continues, saying, "For me, I am a big Far Cry 2 booster, I just like how games like that play. I kept thinking this is like, playing an FPS for the first time. This is great stuff. So I kind of wanted to play with different ideas of like, what FPS could do like what I've always wanted to see an FPS and like, what are things we could do with a player body? And what are the things that a player's body can be and do and smell like? I just wanted to play with those ideas with questions like 'What are they? What do they felt like this?'" He also adds that there is one additional component that he hopes players enjoy: "Oh, you can smell those games, which we're very proud of. We have tech that lets you climb into a trash chute and get ejected into outer space. And then when you kind of float out of space and climb back into the ship, there's a big message it says you are smelly, and then you will waft out green smell clouds from your body. And bad guys will smell you and they will track you down by your green smell clouds. And we have different systems for getting yourself clean again. So we're very excited to let people play with this." The smell component is just one of the many oddities this game has, including the "sneeze system" that builds up when crawling through ventilation shops in an effort to play around with all of the things a body can do in-game. It's pretty interesting, and definitely a unique venture! Check it out in the trailer below to see for yourself how it all works:  Click here to watch embedded media With Annapurna, as a publisher, doing so much to increase visibility for indies in the gaming space, I wanted to find out exactly how Chung feels about the current spotlight given to independent studios. "I used to work in the AAA space for about five years," he tells Game Informer.  "And then in 2010, I went independent. And I think from my experience, I always feel that whenever I release anything, is just a giant crapshoot. I think sometimes things catch on, sometimes things don't. Like, sometimes I'll play a game that's like, really, really good. And then I'll read a report later that, like, this game didn't really sell very well. I'm like, what:? How did this happen? And I'm gonna be honest, I don't fully understand. I mean, I think part of it is just that there are just so many games out there. And, there's so much free stuff now.  I couldn't play this, this incredibly well-made game that's totally free, and I don't need to pay any money for it." He adds, "There are a lot of new things happening. There are lots of like, free stuff for game pass stuff or whatever. So I think there's definitely a lot of things to figure out. I think my general approach to making stuff is that some things catch on, some things don't. And because there's just so much stuff out there. Sometimes things just kind of get lost in the wind. I think we're making something really cool. So I'm hoping I think the best I can hope for usually is like I hope this finds the audience of people that like this kind of thing. That was something like funny and lighter and like plays with ideas. But I think beyond that there are some things are sometimes like out of our control, which is a bummer, but I don't know." We don't mean to alarm you, dear reader, but games are - in fact - hard to make. I know! Crazy, right? But they are! And that's something Chung talks about, as well. "I think that one thing that sometimes doesn't always get through [to people] is that games are hard to make and that when you want to make a game, you have to create each bit, you have to make all the parts of it. I think it can sometimes feel to some people that like, oh, you think I could just make this game in three months and it actually will take you two years, or whatever. But I think sometimes it's hard to understand that. It's not just like putting a puzzle where you put the pieces down, it's more of you don't know where the straight line goes, if it's even a straight line. It's more like a very, very squiggly line of like, 'ok, let's try this.' So it's a lot of different ideas that you first have to try and fail. And then you find the thing that works. And I think when people say yeah, I can make this in three months they might not be wrong, but coming up with all of these ideas and making them work takes a lot longer than that." Skin Deep will be on Steam only, though future platform releases are being considered. 

  • Solar Ash Release Date Revealed In Annapurna Showcase

    It’s been a little over a year since Heart Machine’s second project, Solar Ash was unveiled during Sony’s PlayStation 5 reveal event, but the wait for this fast-paced, interstellar adventure is almost over. The game’s eagerly awaited release date was officially announced today during the Annapurna Interactive Showcase, and it’s only a few months away. Solar Ash’s trailer didn’t reveal many more details about the game’s world or its story but did include one piece of information we’ve been waiting for all year, the launch day. You’ll be able to grapple, weave, and fight your way through the cosmos when Solar Ash comes to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC on October 26. Click here to watch embedded media Heart Machine's anticipated title was only one highlight of the indie publisher’s show today, which overflowed with gorgeous games. Among the visually stunning participants were games like The Artful Escape, a soul-searching rock experience where you play as a musician hoping to make a name for himself despite feeling overshadowed by his famous uncle’s legacy. Neon White, a game from Donut County creator Ben Esposito introduced earlier this year, also made a welcome appearance. The first-person shooter meets card game follows the story of a demon assassin plying his deadly trade in an attempt to secure a place in heaven. If you have missed the latest news on Heart Machine’s upcoming title, we last saw Solar Ash back in June at the Summer Game Fest. The footage showed off more of the game’s signature skating traversal and some serious combat. June’s trailer features a massive, flying example of the world's largest enemies, Remnants, which Rei takes down by rapidly gliding from one weak point to the next. In her quest to save her home from the world-swallowing danger of the Ultravoid, Rei – the game’s intrepid voidrunner – will face several of these titanic foes. Still haven’t got your fill of Solar Ash? We have you covered with this look at the game which came out of Sony’s State of Play earlier this year. Solar Ash is out October 26 for PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.

  • Storyteller And The Vulnerabilities That Come With Being An Indie Developer

    Daniel Benmergui of Ludomancy is an Argentinian independent game designer that I've respected for a long time because his approach to creation is so unique and explosive in its intent. He has been behind some incredible thought-provoking games like Today I Die and I Wish I Were the Moon, and with today's Annapurna Showcase, he showed off Storyteller, a game that made its first debut back in 2008 but is now ready to be shared with the world.  Storyteller is a creative spin on the puzzle genre where players have the complete freedom to tell a story of their choosing. Whether it be a comedy or a heartbreaking tragedy, players are given a toolbox filled with characters, settings, and emotions to craft a narrative that can inspire love, revenge, and resonate with the deeper depths of our emotions. Twist a supernatural tale, if that's your fancy, or go the more Shakespearean route; the choice is yours.  Sitting down with Benmergui, he opens up to us about the more vulnerable side of being a game developer, especially with a tale such as this. There's a lot of himself in this game and with so many years building up towards its release, he admits that the thought of launch day scares him a little. "In the case of [Storyteller], it was very ambitious," he says. "Why don't you make a game about people making stories? It's very difficult to relate it to other things we've done."  Click here to watch embedded media With the game having been revealed years ago, the buildup towards launch is a double-edged sword. It's exciting, but it has also opened up a few fears regarding the public's reaction, doubly so with him putting so much of himself into the story, creatively speaking. "One of my fears is you," he says. "Was it worth the wait? I don't know, because most people are going to go into the story never having seen a game like this before. So I don't know what's going to happen, and yeah. That scares me." He also opens up that it's difficult to not put yourself into the things you create as a creator and that the difference between being a AAA dev versus an independent developer gives more edge to that innate fear. "I come from a AAA background and then, if we ship something and people react badly, we can just push that blame up to the top. As an independent creator, that blame falls on me. It's about being extra exposed, you're going to be judged on everything. As an independent creator, you're going t be judged on everything. You have more freedom, yes, but that in itself is also kind of scary, it's like a freefall. I had a team that supported me, but what if that doesn't come across?"  The vulnerability expressed adds to the emotional depth of the upcoming game. It's personal, it's rooted in majesty and realism in equal measure. It's honest. Storyteller is about telling your own story. We've all had our moments of triumph. Of love and loss. Of fear and victory. Of doubt and contentment. Storyteller allows players to control the narrative, to put themselves into the story much like the dev team did. With the amount of care and passion this team has, including Benmergui himself, I have no doubt that Storyteller will continue on the studio's excellent track record of incredible tales. 

  • Ben Esposito On Neon White: "If This Is For You, It's Your Favorite Game"

    Ben Esposito is not making Neon White for everyone – in fact, even though he admits it's probably not the best marketing move, he says he's trying to make a cult game. He wants Neon White to find players that love it the way he loves the cult games that influenced him, like God Hand, Danganronpa, and El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. Put another way, as Esposito said in the game's most recent trailer, Neon White is a game made for "freaks." On Thursday, during the Annapurna Interactive Showcase, Neon White made its latest showing after being announced back in February. But this time we have a better idea of the game itself; how it's played and a bit of the story. You can see its latest trailer below: Click here to watch embedded media The game centers around the aptly named White, an assassin from Hell fighting demons in an attempt for a new life in Heaven. While on the surface the gameplay looks like an anime-inspired Quake or other similar first-person shooter jump map homage, Neon White's hook and complexity come from its card system and how it affects combat.  In Neon White, cards are weapons or guns. Depending on what card you have, that's what gun you're using; if you have the pistol card, you're shooting a pistol, and so on. "However, before it's been used up of all its weapon magic, let's say – this is so silly," Esposito admits, laughing. "Before it's used up all its weapon magic, I can at any time choose to discard it actively, which will get rid of the card but instantly I'll be able to do a movement ability. So like the pistol, for instance, lets me kind of do a double jump in the air. The rifle lets me dash forward and kill anything in my path. And so on and so forth. So it's kind of like you're always making that choice, like, 'Do I want this gun? Or is it better for me to move faster here?'" There's an emphasis on speedrunning in Neon White, and players are encouraged to fight for the best times on the game's global leaderboard. The result, at least judging by the trailer, is a tense game of juggling priorities and quick thinking as you jump around each level blasting enemies. Admittedly, it looks a bit too intense for standard controls and more suited for a keyboard and mouse setup. It'll be interesting to see how and if it works better on one versus the other when the game is released.  Most people likely caught wind of Esposito from his previous project, Donut County – a cute, relaxing game about a mischievous raccoon. Visually, Neon White stands in stark contrast, borrowing amply from anime (Esposito cites Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, and Black Lagoon, specifically) but also Japanese games we just don't see as much of anymore – smaller, weirder, and more experimental titles. Shinji Mikami's work in the 2000s, like the aforementioned God Hand and his sci-fi shooter Vanquish, is a big inspiration, Esposito says. He also cites games by Goichi "Suda51" Suda, such as Killer7 and No More Heroes. Neon White’s life-sim aspects pull  from the Persona and Danganronpa series, as well as Fire Emblem: Three Houses. All of this is on top of hero shooter elements informed by games such as Team Fortress 2.  It's an interesting, albeit bizarre at times, hodgepodge of different influences all coming together in a game that looks visually distinct from other games in 2021, while also feeling and sounding nostalgic for fans of Japan's early-to-mid 2000s video game output. And, of course, that's the point. Neon White looks like a game made for that specific audience, even if it's not the biggest in the world. "Yeah, so I don't know if everyone else involved likes to hear that I want to make a cult game, because financially making a cult game isn't a great idea," Esposito says, laughing. "But I will say, the way I love those games is pretty unique, I think, to games in general. Like, I don't love really perfect games the way I love a weird kind of broken cult game. And what I wanted to do with Neon White was make it so this game is not trying to be for everyone. It's trying to be a game for really specific people. And if it does hit correctly, for those people, it will be their favorite game. That's really what I'm trying to do." Neon White is set to be released sometime this winter for Switch and PC.